Fascinating little line here (h/t Malc) from Nigel Farage:
“We’ve proved we can get votes in Wales, England and Northern Ireland. We’re still untested in Scotland,” he [Farage] said. “We’ve not had an opportunity to test Ukip policies with the Scottish people for a very long time.” Asked about Ukip’s chances, he was optimistic. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we did quite creditably.”
My recollection is that UKIP’s entire electoral presence in NI amounts to:
— David McNarry, the Strangford AM defector from the UUP,
— Henry Reilly, Councillor for The Mournes
He’s clearly not impressed, but I would note that this does put UKIP ahead of British Labour, the UK Conservatives, or the Liberal Democrats, although to be fair to two of those they currently harbour no ambitions to run in Northern Ireland against local partner parties.
Reilly’s showing wasn’t half bad for a councillor in the 2011 Assembly elections. He’s going to make John McCallister’s return in the next Assembly elections even more problematic than it would have been.
Strictly speaking, David McNarry has yet to be tested in an open election. And Reilly had a huge personal vote.
The thing is, even given their current rise in the polls, UKIP may yet turn out to be a latter day SDP of the right. But they’ve already been around for a while and are pushing somewhat at a half open door as people pull away from international co-operative ventures like the EU.
The real test of Mr Farage’s boast may come with the next European Parliamentary election.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty